Breeding History

 

Breeding History

Selective breeding may have started in the 18th century.

 
Lusitano-035Charles Darwin in his famous “The Origin of the Species” (1859) also discusses selective breeding both by Nature and also by man. But this is not the beginning.   There is archeological evidence that animals were bred in the Near East 10,000 years ago; 2,000 years later in China; and 4,000 years later in Mexico, the Andes, and Eastern North America.   Glaucus selected the dogs for the hunt according to their speed and endurance, allowed his best to breed.   The poet Virgil selected only the largest, best-shaped seeds from his harvest for next year’s planting season.   Alexander the Great selected himself the Indian cattle.   They would be incorporated into his personal herds.   Charlemagne was well known for his stallion selection process.
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Lusitano-017Robert Bakewell started selective breeding of sheep in the 18th century.   He was looking for sheep with thick wool and more meat within a compact body.   At that time, cattle were used mostly to plow and pull carts and wagons.   There wasn’t much meat in them and people relied on sheep to eat.   Bakewell changed this by taking long-horned heifers and breeding them with a Westmoreland bull.   The result was a gain of more than fifty pounds of meat per animal.   By 1768, his stock had grown from three hundred and seventy pounds per animals to an average of eight hundred and forty pounds per animal.   This opened up the meat market by taking the first steps in cattle breeding.
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Lusitano-056With time, it was hard to keep up with the family lines of this and that animal.   So in 1826 the first stud book or pedigree registrar was started in England.   It was started for the British Thoroughbreds.   But it did not include all the horses and their ancestors.   It only included the families of race-winning horses.   Once the use and benefits of the stud book were recognized, the Shorthorn cattle stud book was started in 1826.   The third book was started in North America and it was well organized and very accurate.   It was started in 1876 and concerned American Berkshire pigs.   From then on breeders all over the world started doing their homework to follow the path to the origin of their Champions.
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